With the Royal Rumble coming up, here’s my article from Wrestle Talk TV discussing the build up to last year’s event. Did it end up as anticipated, and how does this year’s build up compare? Let me know.
Originally published HERE.
An event that hosts a match arguably more anticipated than the Wrestlemania main event itself, Sunday the 26th of January 2014 is home to the 27th annual Royal Rumble pay-per-view and Royal Rumble match.
The brainchild of WWE Legend, Creative and Hall of Famer Pat Patterson, long famed for his ingenuity in creating stipulations and match types alongside his notoriety for high quality finishes, the Royal Rumble sees the culmination of multiple feuds either ending or gearing up for the road to the Showcase of the Immortals.
WWE Tag Team Title Match: Cody Rhodes and Goldust (c) versus The New Age Outlaws
Before this event even begins officially, the Rumble’s kick-off show will see two teams take each other on for the coveted WWE tag team championship titles. The Brotherhood, Cody Rhodes and Goldust will take on the newly returned New Age Outlaws, Billy Gunn and Road Dogg. After returning to the WWE in July 2012 for the 1000th episode of Monday Night RAW, the Outlaws have sporadically been featured in various areas of WWE, whether the Outlaws taking on Primo and Epico on 2013’s old school RAW, Gunn in NXT or Road Dogg hosting YouTube show ‘Are You Serious?’ with Josh Matthews, the D-X members had been fairly quiet.
And then this happened:
With outfits as loud as the fan reaction to the 5-time tag team champions, the WWE fans screamed ‘One More Match’ and that may have been something the head office could not ignore. The Outlaws returned to grace RAW’s squared circle one year from their last appearance, returning at 2014’s Old School RAW by assisting CM Punk to take out The Shield, furthered by a returning Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts. The following episode of Smackdown saw CM Punk team with the New Age Outlaws to face The Shield, coming up short in an exciting main event.
However, just like they used to, the Outlaws showed their true colours by betraying CM Punk just days later on Monday Night RAW, with a re-match against The Shield. With CM Punk being taken apart by Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns, he finally managed to fight away and get to his corner, where the Outlaws unceremoniously left the Straight-Edge Superstar high and dry. The team succeeded in grabbing the WWE Universe’s full attention as soon as the opportunity presented itself, following up by defeating The Brotherhood the following Friday Night on Smackdown!
With this in mind, The Authority (suspiciously or not) granted the New Age Outlaws an opportunity to face Cody Rhodes and Goldust once again, but this time for the WWE Tag Team Championship. Whether further fuel to the conspiratorial fire that CM Punk sees, or if this is just a smokescreen, it doesn’t detract from the New Age Outlaws’ dominant return to seek ring supremacy.
However, their challengers have been WWE Tag Team Champions for over 3 months, winning the titles after defeating The Shield’s Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins in drastic circumstances. Coming off a huge victory, with their daddy former NWA World Heavyweight Champion Dusty Rhodes alongside them, the Rhodes brothers were literally fighting to save their careers and their family legacy, both past and future, with Cody’s newly wedded wife fearing their family’s livelihood if Cody were to fail to win. This was paramount as both Cody and Goldust had previously fought against ‘The Viper’ Randy Orton, leading to both being fired after losing to the WWE Champion.
Fighting past this adversity, the newly united brothers have been through so much that they have become far more difficult to beat than previously expected. Conquering The Shield, The Wyatt Family, The Real Americans, Big Show & Rey Mysterio, Curtis Axel & Ryback and The Usos, this team of brothers will be a tough challenge for any competitors, even if the New Age Outlaws hold a slight edge after defeating them previously.
Daniel Bryan vs. Bray Wyatt
Speaking of overcoming adversity, Daniel Bryan has recently kicked the proverbial hornet’s nest with his recent betrayal of Bray Wyatt. After his long-term fight against The Authority and single-handedly attempting to overcome the machine, Bryan finally (or so we thought) gave into his demons. The struggles of defeating WWE Champion John Cena at Summerslam only to be betrayed by special guest referee Triple H, being screwed by referee Scott Armstrong at Night of Champions in his rematch and even being super kicked by his own mentor Shawn Michaels at Hell in a Cell which exhausted his last chance at the championship, the barrage of pitfalls Bryan suffered got to him.
Despite fighting The Wyatt Family at Survivor Series and TLC in the ensuing months, before the end of the year, Bryan shocked the world as he declared himself Bray Wyatt’s property and joined the family. Saying that he was unable to fight the machine on his own, Bryan admitted that he needed the Wyatts, much to their sadistic pleasure.
Seemingly inspired by the fury imposed by Bray Wyatt, Daniel Bryan appeared another loyal soldier following Erick Rowan and Luke Harper, Wyatt’s pre-existing disciplines. However, this was not to last long. In one of the WWE’s most incredible moments, Daniel Bryan turned his back on Bray Wyatt inside the confines of a steel cage, one-on-one and away from any possible interference.
How wise of a decision this was, is still up for debate. Claims of Bryan being a ‘traitor’ rang through the arena on this past week’s Monday Night RAW with Wyatt asking Bryan to promise that he would tell his mother he loved her, because he was responsible for the coming onslaught that he was to suffer.
We’ve only seen glimpses of Bray Wyatt in action, defeating Kane in ‘The Big Red Machine’s own Inferno Match, no less in Wyatt’s debut, defeating Dolph Ziggler and defeating Daniel Bryan in a 3-on-1 handicap match at TLC. Despite grabbing the wrestling world’s attention, there is still very little anyone knows about Bray Wyatt and very little we have seen of his in-ring abilities in full force, aside from an unforgettable moment against Kofi Kingston at WWE Battleground.
Brock Lesnar vs. The Big Show
Ever since The Beast’s return in April 2012, the day after WrestleMania 28, he has been nearly unstoppable and looks to conquer everything in his path. Crossing paths with John Cena, Triple H, HBK, CM Punk and the World’s Strongest Man Mark Henry, Brock Lesnar has unleashed his fury upon the entire locker room and put them on notice.
Nonetheless, one man stepped up to fight the former NCAA and UFC Champion – The Big Show. These two monsters among men have fought before, in a memorable contest at WWE’s Survivor Series 2002 in Madison Square Garden, where the unthinkable happened – Paul Heyman, then managing his client Brock Lesnar, betrayed the Next Big Thing and joined sides with The Big Show, costing Lesnar the WWE Title in the process.
These two went on to fight each other, join sides as part of Team Lesnar at 2003’s Survivor Series match, and create one of the most memorable moments in WWE History (just after the 3 minute mark on the video below) when the Big Show and himself collapsed an entire WWE ring after The Beast Incarnate superplexed the giant from the top rope.
With Brock Lesnar’s dominance on display, The Big Show has been through a tumultuous time, abused and fired by Stephanie McMahon and Triple H, countering with a lawsuit and competing for the WWE Championship against Randy Orton. The World’s Largest Athlete has not achieved the same level of success as Lesnar in his bouts, but his determination and focus have shown a fiercer side to the Big Show, especially this past week on Smackdown when he manhandled both members of The Real Americans, Jack Swagger and Antonio Cesaro.
WWE World Heavyweight Title match: Randy Orton (c) vs. John Cena
To say that Randy Orton and John Cena have a storied past would be an accurate phrase but would not conjure up the violence that has perpetrated both individuals’ lives. TLC matches, Tables matches, No DQ matches, ‘I Quit’ matches, ‘Anything Goes Iron Man Matches’ and more have featured in the Orton-Cena chapter of WWE history.
With careers paralleling one another, both were prominent Intercontinental (Orton) and United States (Cena) champions, both multiple-time WWE and World Heavyweight Champions, but most recently and pivotally, both were involved in the WWE’s WWE World Heavyweight Championship unification match, where Orton emerged the victor.
Paralleling events from late 2001 and early 2002, the previous instalment in WWE’s world title unification picture which saw Chris Jericho defeat both The Rock for the WCW Championship and ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin for the WWF Championship, the unified title was won in late 2013 and is to be defended against the former holder of one of those titles, John Cena.
However, things have become personal once again. In 2007, Orton grabbed a hold of John Cena’s father and brutally kicked him in the skull.
As of two weeks ago, Randy Orton had once again viciously assaulted John Cena’s father, for which Cena has obtained a small level of retribution, but no doubt wishes to carry out an all-out assault that both incapacitates Orton and leaves him defeated, allowing Cena to capture the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. This rivalry continues, and whether or not it closes is unknown, but what we are sure of, is a battle between two future Hall Of Fame calibre superstars.
The Royal Rumble
Finally, we come to view the various conflicting personalities entering WWE’s 2014 Royal Rumble match. Already hyped by the melee that resulted after Friday Night Smackdown’s main event, the excitement only continues to grow.
Highly anticipated is ‘The Animal’ Batista’s in-ring return at the Rumble, competing in an event he has already won once before in 2005. With battles fought both in the ring and on Twitter against Alberto Del Rio, Batista is back and looks focused on winning, with nothing getting in his way.
The central ongoing story-arc entering this match surrounds renegade ‘Best In The World’ superstar CM Punk and alleged conspiracy theories he believes in. As previously stated with his experience against The Outlaws, Punk’s case continues to build in support of his belief that a corporate agenda against him exists, courtesy of The Authority.
Despite calling out Stephanie McMahon back in summer 2011, Punk battling ‘The Game’ at Night of Champions 2011 before teaming together to take on Awesome Truth, and the Straight-Edge Superstar aligning himself alongside Triple H’s regime when countless stars walked out on the Cerebral Assassin in late 2011, it appears that someone is out to get CM Punk, whether potentially forcing The Outlaws hand to abandon him or by Director of Operations ‘Corporate’ Kane entering Punk into the Rumble at the number 1 spot, Punk is looking to fight through each and every boundary put in his way. As his tattoo states: ‘Luck is for Losers.’ Perhaps we may see Punk match Rumble history with a record number of eliminations as ‘The Devil’s Favourite Demon’ (11).
Furthermore, all three members of The Shield will feature in their very first rumble event, which promises to be an extravaganza if they stay strong and opens up the chances for unique three-on-one or three-on-two or even three-on-three encounters, which ought to be interesting to see how The Shield dissect their victims. Despite continued rumours of cracks appearing in the armour of The Shield, further explored on Old School RAW’s Piper’s Pit, we have yet to see the team completely implode.
Speaking of The Shield, Intercontinental Champion Big E Langston has been entered into the Royal Rumble match, which may prove interesting considering his recent rivalry against Dean Ambrose, United States Champion. In the line of champions, both tag team champions are also involved in this Royal Rumble, with brother Goldust promising brother Cody Rhodes that he will get him back for the events of Royal Rumble 2013.
We are to expect memorable moments from Kofi Kingston, Damien Sandow, Bad News Barrett, Kofi Kingston, The Real Americans: Antonio Cesaro and Jack Swagger, The Wyatt Family’s Luke Harper and Erick Rowan, The Usos, The Miz, Fandango, R-Truth and Xavier Woods alongside former winners Rey Mysterio and Alberto Del Rio.
The Rumble is often home to great returns for various wrestlers and legends alike, can we expect something similar tonight? Whatever the case, this ought to be a Royal Rumble for the ages.